All the bumps & lumps.

The lingering promise of Morel Mushroom hunting supercharged an already exciting trip to Montana, this past June.  For as long as I’ve been obsessed with food, I’ve had frequent visions of traipsing through some deep, dark forest alongside some all-knowing mushroom expert, with a bag absolutely overflowing with loot.  The dreams usually end with a sharp right past a gigantic redwood to find Jamie Oliver & Gennaro Contaldo huddled around a warming cast iron skillet, ready to teach me mind-blowing tricks with my gatherings.  That’ll do.

The day finally came, and seven of us piled into a suburban headed towards our adventure.  Given I know nothing about mushroom hunting at this point, I learned along the way that Morels grow in the burned ash of forest fires.  The fungi shoot up to the surface to save themselves and their species by exploding into spores that travel far and wide.  Luckily, our friend and guide for the day knows the mountains like they’re his big backyard.  At this point, I should also mention that I get carsick.

Our host for the weekend was a very generous, smart soul named Philip.  Another appropriate side-note is that Philip does NOT get carsick (never has, ever)  and therefore does NOT feel the g-force of a 1/2 ton suburban with a party of seven whipping around two-lane roads sans side-rails alongside breathtaking cliffs.  His philosophy is that going faster makes it get over with quicker.

Unaware, I jumped in the backseat – middleseat for this ride.  Stellar choice.  For 45 minutes, I felt invincible.  About that time, Philip casually asked if any of us get carsick, to which I responded, equally casually, “sometimes” (total lie) before he followed up with “ok, because we’re headed down the windiest road in Montana.”  At that point, I absolutely started sweating.  Seven more minutes, and I was inching closer that familiar feeling known as horrible.  “How much longer?“, I asked.  “Thirty-five minutes,” the response.  About 4 more minutes before I had the car stopped, got out, and told my husband  that I was walking home.  Somehow (I truly don’t know how), he talked me off the ledge, got me back in the front-seat of the car and finally, we arrived to the site.  If it wasn’t for the strength of those mushroom hunting visions, the burden of letting a car full of generous folks down and John’s strong negotiating skills, the rest of what your about to read may never have happened…

At first, it wasn’t easy.  The initial hillsides had been picked over pretty clean, taking focus to find the little swirly brains known as Morels.  Looking for them felt like staring into one of those Magic Eye photos with a jumping dolphin.  And, I still felt like a spinning top, as seen on my face in the above shot, if you know me at all.

Then, it happened.  I found one.  And one is all it takes.  Like learning how to whistle, I was hooked.  We continued upward, determined to out-climb the amateurs (one mushroom in my bag.)  Up, up, east, east, and there is was.  Mushrooms everywhere.  Literally, total abundance.  As I double fisted, my dreams came true.  My bag, overflowing with loot.

Eventually, we ran out, but not before we’d fully experienced what mushroom hunting can be.  In this photo, I see a happy girl, dirty from hard forest work with the satisfaction of $100 of free Morels in her bag.  Plus, because I know her so well, I spot a twinge of fear deep in the recesses about the long drive home.

Dazed resulting from hours of being in the zone, we navigated our way back to the car.

We made it down, and (thankfully) we made it home.  I accepted something during this adventure – I get carsick.  I just do.  Born that way, and I haven’t yet found the solution.  Kind of like the time I realized that making a trip to Home Depot is hard for me.  I sat outside the store in a near panic attack, beating myself up about how stupid it is that I get nervous to navigate the aisles of our “local” hardware store.  I mean, who DOES that?! When out of the blue, it switched.  I recognized that it doesn’t really matter why it’s hard.  It just is, and instead of beating myself up, I encouraged myself to accept the reality of its hardness.  With that, I took a deep breathe, walked in and almost enjoyed myself in the process.  Nowadays, I actually like the place.

I don’t know that I will ever enjoy being carsick, but it happens to me.  And answering “sometimes” when the reality is really “always” doesn’t help anyone.  Especially not, in this case, Philip.  Do I get carsick?  The answer is “absolutely.”

We celebrated surviving and succeeding with a feast of a dinner.  Grilled Venison, hunted by our hosts, with buttery sautéed Morels overtop.  Plus, roasted spaghetti squash and a salad with fresh greens and herbs from the garden near our cottage.

Philip kindly dried the loot for us, and I still have a couple cups left in my pantry back at the farm.  A quiet reminder to accept myself, with all my bumps & lumps…


Organic Spark


  • Dad

    Unfortunately, some things are hereditary. Sorry about that!

    August 29, 2012
  • karen

    Hello Molly – Thanks again for sharing your experience, bumps, lumps and all.

    May I suggest you try “Acuband” for your carsickness. They are amazing little wrist bands, the best are velcro straps with a little pressure bead on them that you apply over the Nei Kuan point on your wrist. I prefer this brand because they adjust to your wrist size and apply constant pressure when needed.

    I am a sailor and I used to get sea sick (I grew out of it), but these worked then and when I became pregnant and had morning sickness 24/7 I used these bands then, too. Amazing, almost instant relief.

    Here is the link to the brand I use/d.

    Happy travelling!

    September 2, 2012
    • Molly Chester

      Thanks Karen!

      October 16, 2012

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